John Watts - Morethanmusic
I recently had the privilege of meeting him at London's Borderline venue where he was performing to launch his new album, Morethanmusic. Now like a lot of his albums, they sell well on the continent and are all but unobtainable over in the UK. So, I was able to pick up my copy at the gig. Having listened to it now many times since I bought it I am glad to say that my opinion remains high for this album does not disappoint.
After recording an album of stories garnered from strangers who he met on a European rail journey, Morethanmusic gets back to tales from Watts' own experiences. The music has also evolved for John has pulled together a band this time and as a consequence there is a more up-tempo, sometimes harder edge to the music, as well as greater prominence to keyboards, than has been evident on recent albums. But an album by John Watts would not be an album by John Watts without the songs, the lyrics which conjure up such vivid imagery. And here, as elsewhere, Morethanmusic does not disappoint.
For instance, "Head On" starts with kids watching Saddam Hussein's execution on a mobile phone, and ends up as a scathing condemnation of the western involvement in Iraq and the activities of the militant Islamists where young men from, as he puts it, "Bumfuck Idaho", with no experience of the world are sent to kill their equivalents in a land most of them couldn't even place on a map. It laments the loss of dignity, of the executed man, of the executioners, and of all of us who are tainted by the continuing practice of judicial murder and who do not stand up and condemn it every time it is carried out.
Watts has lost none of his political edge, and when he chooses to deploy his songwriting talent on controversial subjects, he still can. But he can also write songs which have a more heartwarming theme. "The Wave" is the story of a friend who used to run and jog every day, and finally realised what it had all been for when he had to race to save his kids while on holiday when the Boxing Day Tsunami broke over South-East Asia. "Perfect Timing" is a look at the perils of having to get somewhere urgently via the M25 on a rainy day, and as anyone who has ever tried that will know, it takes all the pleasure out of driving. Then there is "URSo", ostensibly a song about regret, but as was explained at the Borderline gig, a cover for an amusing tale when John slipped off stage in Germany and landed on a waitress, who then turned up at his other concerts alleging assault.
These are just a few of the glorious songs on this album. It is what I have come to expect from John Watts. Now, perhaps, so many years after his success with Fischer-Z, he may be getting the recognition he deserves. Morethanmusic has started to receive critical acclaim, on the continent of course - mainstream radio hacks in Britain are too much in the pocket of the record companies to pick up anything truly independent. There is no better time to check out the man and his music for it could well be that John Watts, with Morethanmusic is finally brought to the attention of the wider public.
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on 2011-05-12 CharlesMartel Said:
John Watts touring Europe in the summer of 2011 with a full backing band and playing Fischer-Z songs.